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Some Talking Points to share with Legislators on Gun Control and Safe Schools
Submitted by Ed Gallo on 19/Mar/2018
These talking points were written by a prominent attorney who shares our passion for legal gun ownership and the 2nd Amendment in Vermont...
• 1. There is no excuse for a lack of statistics on “gun crime” in Vermont. The anti-gun crowd likes to say that the lack of statistical data to support their positions is the result of the NRA suppressing record keeping and studying of “gun crime.” The incidence of shootings which cause injury or death to another person in Vermont are sufficiently infrequent and of such low number that recording and studying these events should require little effort. I think the anti-gun crowd does not want the data on “gun crime” in Vermont because not one person who has been killed or injured in a Vermont shooting would have been prevented by any of the current proposals. No legislator should support policy without knowing what impact the policy will have on the perceived problem. Before burdening tens of thousands of Vermonters with new restrictions and financial costs, the legislators should have good estimates of the number of transactions or items which will be burdened and the number of incidents in which a person will be saved from injury or death by new laws. Those estimates should be based on Vermont events that have actually happened. If they have not put in the effort to gather this data, an effort which will require little work, then the proposals should be delayed until they do their due diligence.
2. The House Judiciary Committee Members are Violating their Oath of Office (building on Bill Moore’s testimony). The Oath the legislators took was:
"I, ...................................................................., do solemnly swear (affirm) that as a member of this Assembly, I will not propose, or assent to, any bill, vote or resolution, which shall appear to me injurious to the people, nor do nor consent to any act or thing whatever, that shall have a tendency to lessen or abridge their rights and privileges, as declared by the Constitution of this State, but will, in all things, conduct myself as a faithful, honest Representative and guardian of the people, according to the best of my judgment and ability. (If an oath) So help me God. (If an affirmation) Under the pains and penalties of perjury.
"I do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will be true and faithful to the State of Vermont, and that I will not, directly or indirectly, do any act or thing injurious to the Constitution or Government thereof. (If an oath) So help me God. (If an affirmation) Under the pains and penalties of perjury.
"I do solemnly swear (affirm) that I did not at the time of my election to this body, and that I do not now hold any office of profit or trust under the authority of Congress. (If an oath) So help me God. (If an affirmation) Under the pains and penalties of perjury.
"I do further solemnly swear (affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States. (If an oath) So help me God. (If an affirmation) Under the pains and penalties of perjury."
The Vermont Constitution includes Article 16. Article 16 says “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State--and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.” The House Judiciary Committee is proposing legislation which will abridge the rights of Vermont citizens protected from infringement by Article 16 without any reportable and verifiable facts or data which support the proposals. This is a dereliction of duty and a breach of their oath of office.
3. “Standard capacity” for a magazine is 17 rounds for a handgun and 30 rounds for a rifle. According to CBS news https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/most-popular-guns-in-america/2/ the most produced gun in the US in 2016 was the semi-automatic pistol. Wikipedia has a list of most produced firearms https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most-produced_firearms. The most produced guns on that list still in significant use in the US are the Glock 17, Colt 1911 and the Beretta 92. Two of those three (66%) of the most produced semi-automatic pistols still widely sold and used in this country have standard magazine capacity of 17 rounds. The 1911 has fewer rounds but is chambered in a larger caliber and does come in double stack capacity also which holds 14 rounds. The two top semi-automatic rifles on the list which are still in wide distribution and use in this country are the AK-47 and the AR-15. Both of these rifles have a standard magazine capacity of 30 rounds. Therefore, “high capacity” must be at least exceed the standard capacity of 17 rounds for a handgun and 30 rounds for a semi-automatic rifle.
4. Why are .380, 9mm, .45 and 10mm all treated the same for magazine capacity? The anti-gun crowd likes to say that magazine capacity is linked to lethality according to studies they can’t identify. Any discussion of handgun lethality should start with bullet caliber, not number. The gun-ignorant legislators should be given visual references to understand the difference in physical size of the various handgun calibers. They should be forced to explain why 15 rounds of .380 is more lethal than 10 rounds of 10mm.
5. Name the Murdered Vermonter who would still be alive if the gun who shot her only held 10 bullets. Can any legislator point to even one death that would have been prevented by a magazine capacity limit of 10 rounds? Vermont has been awash in guns since joining the Union in 1791. There are literally hundreds of thousands magazines in private ownership in Vermont which have a capacity of more than 10 rounds. If any single death was going to be caused by the 11th round from a single magazine, it would have happened by now. Again, don’t blame a lack of data proving that it didn’t happen on the NRA because there are so few shooting death incidents in Vermont to examine, there is no excuse for anyone supporting a magazine ban not knowing the answer to this question.
6. The Second Amendment Does not Apply to AR-15’s because the Founding Fathers had muskets and did not Imagine Modern Weapons of War. This is a favorite rote point by mindless legislators regurgitating what they saw on cable news. The Founding Fathers were less likely to have imagined cell phones or the internet than they were to have considered the development of better guns. Following this logic, the contents of the legislators cell phones should not be protected from warrantless seizure and search by the government because when the 4th Amendment was conceived, communication was done by writing on paper or shouting out the window. Speech on the internet should not be protected by the 1st Amendment because the Founding Fathers did not dream of youtube. Evangelical Christian and Southern Baptist religious practices should likewise not be protected from government interference because they did not exist in 1789.
7. There are no statistics which demonstrate that universal background checks will prevent one crime. Very few crimes in Vermont involve guns. The ATF is constantly tracing guns used in crimes. If guns used in crimes were obtained through private sales which would have been stopped by mandatory background checks, the ATF and the FBI would know about it. Again there are not so many of these incidents that record keeping and studying the particulars is difficult or particularly burdensome. The lack of data means that there is no data to report. There is no evidence that universal background checks will prevent disqualified persons from accessing firearms and until such evidence is gathered, infringing on Article 16 is a violation of the legislative oath of office.
8. Universal Background Checks will disadvantage the Poor and Indigent. A person working a minimum wage job will be heavily burdened by a background check to the point that it might make acquiring a gun for self-protection unaffordable. Why is there no discussion about limiting FFL fees or allocating public monies to pay the fees for the poor? Don’t they care about poor people or would they prefer that poor people don’t have guns?
9. Why do they assume FFL’s will handle background checks for private transfers? Are they going to require FFL’s to handle private transfers? What if no FFL within 100 miles of a rural community will agree to do private transfers or will only do them for an exorbitant fee? Have the legislators obtained surveys or polls from Vermont FFL’s about their willingness and fees to do background checks for private sales? Have they read Article 16? Do they remember taking an oath of office?
10. Is Giving FFL’s Immunity an Idea that they have really thought through? FFL dealers turn away a lot of potential sales that don’t feel right to them. Tort liability is a big incentive to keep FFL’s acting with appropriate caution in dealing with firearms transactions. If you strip tort liability from FFL holders in their dealings with the public, aren’t you creating a larger and more real risk of harm to the public than universal background checks is imagined to solve? If tort immunity will only apply to private transfers, isn’t that defeating the whole purpose? If FFL dealers don’t have to care about tort liability in private transfers, they aren’t going to exercise their judgment to prevent sales that don’t feel right to them.
11. Vermont’s high gun ownership rate and high suicide rate with guns are not related. We must not confuse correlation with causation. Just because two things exist at the same time does not mean they are related or that one has a causal effect on the other. Anti-gun liars try to dismiss the very low rate of gun homicides in Vermont by saying that Vermont does have lots of gun deaths when you factor in suicides (the VPR study on gun deaths from 2011 – 2016 found only 42 shooting homicides in that time which were not police killings and that 89% of gun deaths were suicides). Vermont also has a disproportionately high rate of opiate addiction. No one is arguing that gun ownership is driving people to opiate addiction although both exist in high numbers in Vermont. “Common Sense” tells me that the factors which are leading to high rates of drug addiction (depressing weather, few economic opportunities in rural communications, breakdown in social networks) are probably a lot more related to the high suicide rate than access to guns.
12. Vermont has had its High School Massacre (credit the folks at Vermont 2A for this one). Steve Bourgoin killed 5 Vermont high school students by intentionally driving his Toyota truck into the Volkswagen Jetta they were traveling in on Interstate 89. This is a tragic event in which a deranged person, reportedly under the influence of drugs, killed 5 innocent young people and shattered a community. That horrific event was more than a year and a half ago and within 30 miles of the Statehouse. What has the Vermont Legislature done in response to this actual tragedy which happened in our State and could happen again any day of the week and is at least or more likely to happen again than a school shooting.
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